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Ex-SNC executive sentenced to prison term in bridge bribery case

An AtkinsRéalis logo is shown in a handout. (Handout/The Canadian Press) An AtkinsRéalis logo is shown in a handout. (Handout/The Canadian Press)
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A former SNC-Lavalin executive has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison in connection with a bribery scheme for a bridge repair contract in Montreal, the RCMP say.

Normand Morin, once a high-ranking vice-president at the engineering firm, received the sentence Tuesday after his conviction for corruption and fraud last month.

A police investigation revealed that SNC-Lavalin executives paid bribes of roughly $2.3 million in order to secure a $128-million contract to repair the Jacques Cartier Bridge deck in the early 2000s.

In 2017, Michel Fournier, former CEO of the Federal Bridge Corp., admitted to receiving the bribes through Swiss bank accounts between 1997 and 2004.

Fournier, who served as chief of staff to Jean Chrétien when he was Opposition leader in the early 1990s, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison and has since received full parole.

Ex-SNC vice-president Kamal Francis was also hit with forgery and fraud charges in 2021. Court proceedings are ongoing, the RCMP said.

SNC-Lavalin — now known as AtkinsRéalis — agreed in 2022 to pay Quebec nearly $30 million over three years to settle criminal bribery charges stemming from work on the bridge that spans the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Longueuil, Que.

The deal, a so-called deferred prosecution agreement, allowed the company to continue doing business with the governments of Quebec and Canada as well as abroad.

The RCMP said the charges resulted from a complex investigation dubbed Project Agrafe (“Staple”) that started in 2013. It was carried out by the Sensitive and International Investigations division of the force, mandated to investigate criminal activity that poses a threat to Canada’s government institutions, public officials or the integrity of the Crown.

SNC-Lavalin was previously charged with bribery and fraud in relation to its past work in Libya, which became the focal point of the high-profile 2019 battle between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould.

In December 2019, the company reached an agreement that saw its construction division plead guilty to a single count of fraud, accompanied by a $280-million fine, while other charges related to acts committed in Libya between 2001 and 2011 were set aside. The company retained the right to bid on federal government contracts.

The same month, former SNC-Lavalin vice-president Sami Babawi was found guilty of bribing foreign officials and pocketing millions of dollars. He was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in January 2020 after a jury found him guilty of five fraud and corruption charges.

He has until early 2025 to pay back $24.69 million that he earned from his crimes.  


- This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 24, 2024.

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